- A Guide to Organisation of a Catholic Funeral -

 

  - Types of Funeral Service -  

There are different types of funeral service. The most common service in the Catholic Church is a Funeral Mass, but there may be circumstances when this is not the best way of celebrating the funeral.

Types of Funeral Service:

Funeral Mass in the Church


Funeral Service in the Church without Mass


Funeral Service at the Funeral Parlour


Funeral Service at the Crematorium

The Parish Priest or one of the Bereavement Group will discuss with you what you think will be the best form of service for you and your family. Perhaps you would want to take into consideration whether the deceased was a committed Catholic, whether the rest of the family are Catholic or whether many of the family go to Mass regularly. You may wish to consider factors such as whether the congregation will be familiar with taking part in the Mass.

  - Reception of the Remains of the Deceased into the Church -  

Traditionally the remains of the Deceased are received into the Church on the evening before the funeral. This service is normally conducted by a Priest who is assisted by one of the Bereavement Group. However there are occasions when a Priest is not available and the service is then led by a member of the Bereavement Group. If the family prefer they may decide to have the remains of the deceased received into the Church at the beginning of the Funeral Mass or Funeral Service.

  - Sermon and Eulogy -  

It is useful to supply some biographical details about the deceased to the Priest. Even if the Priest has known the deceased, it is likely that he will not know about the whole of the life of the person in the same way that only their family does and so to help with the sermon it is useful to discuss aspects of the deceased's life.

Sometimes a friend or family member gives a few minutes appreciation of the deceased at the end of Mass. Please see the Priest about this beforehand as usually there is limited time available in order to meet the needs of the Cemetery or Crematorium timetable.

  - Readers, Soloists, Pallbearers, Cords and Offertory Procession. -  

Readers: One act of participation is to read for the congregation the during the Liturgy of the Word. Traditionally upto 2 readers can read the First Reading, the Psalm (if not sung), The Second Reading and the Gospel Acclamation. When choosing readers from amongst family and friends you should consider whether they have read in public before or whether the emotion of the occasion will be too overwhelming. 

Offertory Procession: Usually 2 but as many as 4 family members can take part in the Procession of Gifts of bread and wine which are brought to the altar in solemn procession. It is an act of participation which can be done by either family or friends and it is always nice to see younger family members take part.

Soloists: From time to time some families have members who wish to take part by offering their talent as a soloist. So long as the music chosen is sacred music and has been discussed with the Priest in advance then a soloist can be used during the reflection after holy communion. See Choosing Hymns for a funeral below for more guidance on music liturgy for funerals.

Pallbearers: Social tradition has it that family and friends can show their respect for the deceased by acting as Pallbearers to carry the coffin into and out of the Church or at the graveyard. This intimate act of offering your physical strength to support the deceased on their final journey is an act of deep respect. In times past only male family or friends took part in bearing the coffin, however in recent times female family and friends are beginning to take part more often in this act of the deceased's final journey.

Male or female, it is however a physically demanding act and consideration should be given to those who are fit and able enough. Consideration should also be given to appropriate footwear for church and graveyard surfaces in order to keep everyone involved, safe. Your Undertaker will assist with safely raising and lowering of the coffin and loading and unloading from the hearse.

Cords: when the funeral involves a burial in a cemetery, social tradition gives the opportunity to share in the act of interment by helping to lower the coffin into the grave by using ropes and cords. The cemetery staff take the weight of the coffin on ropes and the cords, of which there are usually 8, are normally each held by a person chosen by the family. This act is less physically demanding than being a pallbearer and often gives family members who were not able the carry the coffin, an opportunity to participate. Consideration should be given in advance to who the cord holders should be and this should be clearly communicated to each person well in advance of assembly in the graveyard.

Cards with cord numbers, usually 1 - 8 are available from your Undertaker so that each cord holder knows when to move forward to assist when they are called by number.

 

Remember never to wrap a cord around your hand or fingers - it should be allowed to run freely across the palm of the hand.

  - Sacraments of Reconciliation and Communion -  

Those who are not Catholics and Catholics who are not able to receive Communion are always welcome to come forward with the rest of the congregation at Communion time for a blessing.

 

In order to receive a blessing your right arm should be placed across your chest pointing towards your left shoulder to indicate to the Priest that you are requesting a blessing rather than Holy Communion.

During the time surrounding the death of a loved one is often when people seek to reach out to God themselves.

 

Before the funeral service if there are any family members who wish to attend Confession then this can be arranged by discussion with the Priest.

 

  - Readings and Psalms -  

As part of the participation of the family of the deceased in the funeral service, we invite you to choose the readings for the funeral Mass or funeral Service. The Priest or a member of the Bereavement team can help in choosing readings during the process of making the funeral arrangements. Alternatively it is also possible just to use the readings that happen to be used for that day in the liturgical calendar.

The readings form part of the funeral Mass or Service which is called 'The Liturgy of the Word' and structure of 'The Liturgy of the Word' is as follows:

First Reading - read by the readers(s)
Responsorial Psalm - read by the readers(s)
Second Reading - read by the readers(s) but which may be omitted
Gospel Acclamation - read by the readers(s)
Gospel - read by the priest
Homily - given by the Priest
Prayer of the Faithful (also known as Intercessions) - read by the readers(s)

A reader (or two readers) who is a family member or friend can be chosen to deliver each one of the above readings except those by the Priest.


The Word of God is of great importance in the funeral rite. The readings proclaim the meaning that Christ himself gave to death, teach us to remember the dead, nourish our hope of being gathered together again in God’s kingdom, and encourage us to live the Christian life. Above all, the readings tell of God’s design for a world in which suffering and death will be destroyed. In the readings all present have an opportunity to hear God speak to them in their needs, sorrows, fears and hopes.

In the celebration of the Word of God at the funeral liturgy, the biblical readings may not be replaced. A non-biblical reading may be incorporated into the words of remembrance spoken by a member of the family or a friend later in the funeral liturgy, perhaps as part of a eulogy.

The psalms express the suffering and pain, the hope and trust of people of every age. Above all they sing of faith in God and of redemption. They enable us to pray in the words that Jesus himself, who knew anguish and the fear of death, used during his life on earth.

Psalms are used in many places in the funeral rites, in particular as responses to the readings, and at the vigil service. The psalms are songs, and should be sung whenever possible.

  - Some Suggested Readings at Masses for the Dead -  

First Reading from the Old Testament

(Outside the Easter Season )

Bible Text                                                        Theme                                                                                                              Recommended Psalm to Accompany This Reading

1  Job 19:1. 23–27
2  Wisdom 3:1–9
2a  Wisdom 3:1–6. 9 (shorter version) 
3 Wisdom 4:7–15
4 Isaiah 25:6–9
5 Lamentations 3:17–26
6 Daniel 12:1–3
7 2 Maccabees 12:43–45

'This I know: that my Avenger lives.'
'He accepted them as a holocaust '
'He accepted them as a holocaust '
'Untarnished life, this is ripe old age. '
'The Lord will destroy Death for ever. '
'It is good to wait in silence for the Lord to save. '
'Those who lie sleeping in the dust will awake. '
'A fine and noble action, in which he took account of the resurrection.'

26
114
114
22 r.4
22 r.1
24
41
102

First Reading from the Old Testament

(In the Easter Season )

Bible Text                                                        Theme                                                                                                              Recommended Psalm to Accompany This Reading

1 Acts 10:34–43
1a shorter Acts 10:34–36. 42–43
2 Apocalypse 14:13
3 Apocalypse 20:11–21:1
4 Apocalypse 21:1–7

'God has appointed him to judge everyone, alive or dead. '
'God has appointed Jesus to judge everyone, alive or dead. '
'Happy are those who die in the Lord! '
'The dead are judged according to what they had done in their lives. '
'There will be no more death. '

62
62
129
142
121

Responsorial Psalms

Bible Text                                                               Theme        

Second Reading from the New Testament

Ps 22 r.1
Ps 22 r.4
Ps 24:6–7. 17–18. 20–21 r.1 or 3
Ps 26:1.4.7–9. 13–14 r. 1 or 12
Ps 41:2. 3. 5 r.3
Ps 62:2–6. 8–9 r.2
Ps 102: 8. 10. 13–18 r. 8 or Ps 36:39
Ps 114:5–6; Ps 115:10–11. 15–16 r. 114:9
Ps 121 r. 1 or cf. 1
Ps 129 r.1 or cf. 5
Ps 142:1–2. 5–8. 10 r.1

'The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. '
'If I should walk in the valley of darkness no evil would I fear,for you are there with me. '
'To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.' or 'Those who hope in you, O Lord, shall not be disappointed. '
'The Lord is my light and my help.' or 'I am sure I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. '
'My soul is thirsting for God , the God of my life. '
'For you my soul is thirsting, O Lord, my God. '
'The Lord is compassion and love.' or 'The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.'
'I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living.' or 'Alleluia! '
'I rejoiced when I heard them say: ‘Let us go to God’s house.’' or 'Let us go to God’s house, rejoicing. '
'Out of the depths, I cry to you, O Lord.' or 'I wait for the Lord, I count on his word. '
'Lord, listen to my prayer.'

Psalms should be sung whenever possible.

Bible Text                                                          Theme        

1 Romans 5:5–11
2  Romans 5:17–21
3  Romans 6:3–9
3a Romans 6:3–4. 8–9 (shorter version)
4  Romans 8:14–23
5  Romans 8:31–35. 37–39
6  Romans 14:7–12
7  1 Corinthians 15:20–28
7a 1 Corinthians 15:20–23 (shorter version)
8  1 Corinthians 15:51–57
9  2 Corinthians 4:14–5:1
10  2 Corinthians 5:1. 6–10
11  Philippians 3:20–21
12  Thessalonians 4:13–18
13  2 Timothy 2:8–13
14  1 John 3:1–2
15  1 John 3:14–16

'Having died to make us righteous, is it likely that he would now fail to save us from God’s anger.'
'However great the number of sins committed, grace was even greater.'
'Let us live a new life.'
'Let us live a new life.'
'We wait for our bodies to be set free.'
'Nothing can come between us and the love of Christ.'
'Alive or dead, we belong to the Lord.'
'All men will be brought to life in Christ.'
'All men will be brought to life in Christ.'
'Death is swallowed up in victory.'
'Visible thiongs last only for a time, but the invisible are eternal.'
'We have an everlasting home in heaven.'
'He will transfigure these wretched bodies of ours into copies of his glorious body.'
'We shall stay with the Lord for ever.'
'If we die with him, then we shall live with him.'
'We shall see him as he really is.'
'We have passed our of death and into life because we love our brothers.'

Gospel Acclamation

Bible Text                                                           Theme          

1    Matthew 11:25

 

 


2    Matthew 25:34

 

 

 


3    John 3:16

 

 


4    John 6:39

 


5    John 6:40

 

 


6    John 6:51–52

 

 


7    John 11:25–26

 

 


8    Philippians 3:20

 

 


9    2 Timothy 2:11–12

 


10  Apocalypse 1:5–6

 


11  Apocalypse 14:13

Blessed are you, Father,
Lord of heaven and earth;
for revealing the mysteries of the kingdom to mere children.'

'Come, you whom my Father has blessed,
says the Lord;
take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you
since the foundation of the world.'

'God loved the world so much
that we gave his only Son;
everyone who believes in him has eternal life.'

'It is my Father’s will, says the Lord,
that I should lose nothing of all that he has given to me,
and that I should raise it up on the last day.'

' It is my Father’s will, says the Lord,
that whoever believes in the Son shall have eternal life,
and that I shall raise him up on the last day. '

' I am the living bread which has come down from heaven,
says the Lord.
Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.'

'I am the resurrection and the life,
says the Lord:
whoever believes in me will never die.'

'Our homeland is in heaven,
and from heaven comes the Saviour we are waiting for,
the Lord Jesus Christ. '

'If we have died with Christ, then we shall live with him;
if we hold firm, then we shall reign with him.'

' Jesus Christ is the First-born from the dead;
to him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen '

'Happy are those who die in the Lord!
Now they can rest for ever after their work,
since their good deeds go with them.'

Gospel Readings

Bible Text                                                                          Theme                                                                                                     Recommended Gospel Acclamation to Accompany This Gospel Reading

1       Matthew 5:1–12
2       Matthew 11:25–30
3       Matthew 25:1–13
4       Matthew 25:31–46
5       Mark 15:22–29; 16:1–6
5a     Mark 15:33–39 (shorter version)
6       Luke 7:11–17
7       Luke 12:35–40
8       Luke 23:33. 39–43
9       Luke 23:44-46. 50. 52–53; 24:1–6
9a     Luke 23:44–46. 50. 52–53 (shorter version)
10     Luke 24:13–35
10a   Luke 24:13–16. 28–35 (shorter version)
11     John 5:24–29
12     John 6:37–40
13     John 6:51–58
14     John 11:17–27
14a   John 11:21–27 (shorter version)
15     John 11:32–45
16     John 12:23–28
16a   John 12:23–26 (shorter version)
17     John 14:1–6
18     John 17:24–26
19     John 19:17–18. 25–30

'Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.'
'Come to me, and I will give you rest.'
'The bridegroom is here! Go out and meet him.'
'Come, you whom my Father has blessed'
'Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.'
'Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.'
'Young man, I tell you to get up.'
'Stand ready'
'Today you will be with me in paradise.'
'Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.'
'Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.'
'Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and enter into his glory?'
'Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and enter into his glory?'
'Whoever listens to my words and believes has passed from death to life.'
'Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day.'
'Anyone who eats this bread has eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day.'
'I am the resurrection and the life.'
'I am the resurrection and the life.'
'Lazarus, come out'
'If a wheat grain dies, it yields a rich harvest.'
'If a wheat grain dies, it yields a rich harvest.'
'There are many rooms in my Father’s house.'
'I want them to be with me where I am.'
'Bowing his head he gave up his spirit.'

2
1
8
2
9
9
7
8
11
10
10
3
3
2
4
6
7
7
3
11
11
5
4
7

It is obviously possible to pick other texts from the Bible that you might like as readings appropriate to a funeral service, these are just recommendations, however these should be discussed and agreed with the Priest first.

There are other recommended texts that can be used in special circumstances for example, when there is the death of a child. Please speak to the priest or the Bereavement Group to discuss these other recommended texts.

 

  - Choosing Music and Hymns for a Funeral -  

We invite the family to choose the Hymns for the Funeral Mass or Service. We ask you to do this in the understanding of the Catholic Funeral Rite, offering the deceased person to God and to pray for the forgiveness of their sins.

To help us to celebrate the faith and Spirituality of the Mass or Funeral Service we ask that you choose only hymns and sacred music. Having favourite music or songs in the service does not help us to celebrate Christ's Resurrection and the eternal life of the one for whom we are praying.

The Priest or one of the Bereavement Group can help with choosing hymns if you want.

The Structure of Music During Funeral Services

Usually the body of deceased person with be received into the Church on the evening before the Funeral Mass or Service. This short service usually has 2 hymns although on some occasions there may also be a 3rd hymn.

Entrance Hymn

Final Hymn

The structure of the music a funeral Mass calls for the family to select 4 or sometimes 5 hymns for use during Mass. Care should be taken to choose Hymns that are suitable for that aspect of the service - for example 'Take our Bread' is a hymn most suited to the Offertory. Likewise certain hymns are more suited as the Communion Hymn.

Entrance Hymn

Sung Psalm (optional but whenever possible)

Offertory Hymn

Communion Hymn

Reflection After Communion Hymn or Sacred Music (optional)

Final Commendation (can be sung - optional)

Recessional Hymn

For funeral Services without Mass the number and types of hymns chosen should be discussed with the Priest.

In most circumstances it is also possible to have sacred music played during the time before a service when the congregation is assembling in the church before either the Reception of the Body or before a Funeral Mass or Funeral Service.

 

Please speak to the Priest or member of the Bereavement team about this.

Soloists Musicians or Singers

In keeping with the ethos of encouraging families to actively participate in the funeral Rite of their loved one, the Church encourages families who have musical talents to offer themselves as either as singers or as musicians in the musical ministry of the service.

If you want to ask musicians or singers from your family or from outside of the Parish that is fine. Please let the Priest or one of the Bereavement Group know as soon as possible as it is only fair that we let the usual Parish Musicians know as soon as possible that their services are not required.

If you want us to arrange a solo singer from the Parish then speak to the Priest or the Bereavement Group.

  - Some Suggested Sacred Music and Hymns -  

We invite the family to choose the Hymns for the Funeral Mass or Service. We ask you to do this in the understanding of the Catholic Funeral Rite, offering the deceased person to God and to pray for the forgiveness of their sins.

To help us to celebrate the faith and Spirituality of the Mass or Funeral Service we ask that you choose only hymns and sacred music. The following is a list of some suggested Hymns that you may wish to choose from. The list is merely a suggestion designed to provoke your thoughts about some hymns that our parish community, musicians and singers will be familiar with and in which, you may find comfort or strength.

Alphabetical List of Hymns

Key


E – Entrance
P – Psalm
O – Offertory
C – Communion
R - Recessional

Abide with Me.  E
Abba Father send your Spirit.  E
Alleluia, Sing to Jesus. E
All People that on earth do dwell.  E
All that I am, All that I do. O
Amazing Grace!  E
As I kneel before you. R
Be still and know I am with you. C
Be still and know that I am God. C
Be Thou my vision. E
Be Not Afraid. P
Beautiful Angel (tenderly guide me, for I am thy child). C
Bind us together Lord E
Bread of Life. O C
Bring Flowers of the rarest. R
Christ be beside me. O
Christ be our light. R
Christ is our King let the whole world rejoice. R
Circle Me O God. C
City of God. E
Colours of Day. E
Come adore this wondrous presence. (Tanum Ergo) C
Come back to me with all your heart. C
Come, Lord Jesus Come. O
Crown Him with many crowns. E
Day is done but love unfailing dwells ever here. R
Dear Lord and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways. E
Do not be afraid. C
Father I place into your hands O
Faith of our fathers, living still! R
Fill My house unto the fullest. E
Freely, Freely give. R
Give me joy in my heart, keep me praising. R
Gifts of bread and wine. O
God of mercy and compassion. C
God’s spirit is in my heart. R
Go. The Mass is ended. R
Going Home R
Guide me, O thou great redeemer. E
Hail Glorious Saint Patrick. R
Hail, Queen of Heav’n, the ocean star. R
Hail Redeemer, King Devine! E
He will raise you up on eagles wings. P C
Help, Lord the souls which thou has made. E
Holy God we praise thy name. E
How Great Thou Art. E
How lovely on the mountains are the feet of Him. E
Here I am Lord. P
I am the bread of life. O
If God is for us, who can be against. E
Immaculate Mary! R
In bread we bring you Lord. O
I rise from dreams of time. C
I’ll sing a hymn to Mary. R
I watch the sunrise. C
I will be with you where ever you go R
Jesu Dulcis Memoria – (Jesus the very thought of Thee with sweetness fills my breast!) C E
Jesus, my Lord, my God, my all. E
Jesus thou art coming. C
Lay your hand gently upon us. C
Let us break bread together on our knees. O
Lord accept the gifts we offer. O
Lord for tomorrow and it’s needs. O
Love is His word Love is His way. O
Make me a channel of your peace. C
My God accept my heart this day. C
My God I love thee not because I hope for heav’n thereby. R
My God Loves me. O
O Bread of Heav’n beneath this veil. C
O God our help in ages past. E
O God we give ourselves today. O C
O Lord all the world belongs to you. R
O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder. R
Oh, the love of my Lord is the essence. C
O take me to thy sacred heart and seal the entrance o’er. R
One Bread, One Body. C
Our God reigns. R
Panis angelicas. C
Peace, perfect peace. C
Praise my soul the King of heaven! E
Praise to the Lord , the Almighty, the King of creation! E
Soul of My Saviour C
Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. C
Sweet Heart of Jesus E
Sweet star of the sea R
Sweet Sacrament Divine C
Sweet Saviour bless us ere we go R
Take my hands and make them as your own O
Take our bread, we ask you. O
The Church’s one foundation, is Jesus Christ her Lord; E
The Lord is my Sheppard E P C
The love I have for you my Lord C
The Lord hears the cry of the poor. P
This is My body broken for you. C
To Jesus’ Heart, all burning with fervent love for men. C R
Walk in the light. R
Walk with me oh my Lord R
We are gathering together unto Him E
Yahweh I know you are near. P C

The Final Commendation may also be sung before the Recessional Hymn

'Receive his/her Soul and present him/her to God The Most High'

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